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British Prime Ministers Questions

News/Business. (2013) The economy, housing benefits and same-sex marriage.

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  CSPAN    British Prime Ministers Questions    News/Business.  (2013) The economy,  
   housing benefits and same-sex marriage.  

    February 11, 2013
    12:00 - 2:05am EST  

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>> on the next "washington journal, clique no lanie walter discuss the politics of gun control and immigration legislation. then details on a new report regarding civic activities by young people. then the special inspector general for afghanistan reconstruction talks about how much money has been spent in afghanistan and what has been accomplished. "washington journal," live at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. >> you might expect from samsung, televisions, computers, we are investing in multi-screen connectivity. your multitasking. your honor tout texting, watching tv, looking at your tablet.
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how do we link those devices to each other? how do we link them to the cloud or link them to the internet? one very good example is the galaxy camera. the camera is built in with an activity. as you can take photos where you go and instantly to the wireless network upload them to a website or to sort -- to social media. it is bringing connectivity to a camera. linking products to that, linking them to the internet and each other, that is a big opportunity for us. >> the future of consumer technology with david steel from ces international. monday at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span2. >> david cameron took questions from members in the house of commons during his weekly
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question time session on the state of the british economy, and the passing of the same-sex marriage built. on tuesday, members of voted overwhelmingly in favor of the bill. this is just over 30 minutes. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, and in addition to my duties i shall have further such meetings later today. >> thanking my right honorable friend to that answer, and having given the honorable friend notice -- particularly fair and transparent, and modern, can my right honorable friend say that in response to the many concerns in yesterday's debate, that civil partnerships are open to heterosexual couples on an equal basis with homosexual couples?
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>> i am grateful to my wonderful friend and for these questions. i would listen carefully to what he is saying. i am a great supporter of marriage. i want to support marriage, defend marriage, encourage marriage, and the great thing about last night's vote is that two gay people who love each other will now be able to get married. i feel that is important, and we should be promoting that rather than in any way weakening it. >> mr. speaker, i want to ask the prime minister about the bedroom tax. a woman has twins sons that are in the army. the bedroom tax -- she will be charged more for their bedrooms. she says, i resent the fact that both my sons are defending our country, and in return they will not have a home to come home to when they get their much-needed leave.
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what is your answer? >> let me make clear. this is not a tax. this is a benefit. i would make two points in respect to the specific case that he raises. first of all, all the time that labour was in government, if you were in a private sector rented home and you were in receipt of housing benefits, you did not get any benefit for empty rooms. i think that is important. it is only fair we treat people in social housing the same way. the second point is that if anybody is away from home, obviously their earnings are not counted. therefore the benefits that person are likely to go up. >> mr. speaker, i look forward to explaining why her paying 25 pounds a week more from april is not a tax on her.
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as for his point about the private rented sector, i think he misunderstands the point of social housing. the purpose is to protect the most vulnerable. according to the government's own figures, 2/3 of the people hit are disabled. let me tell the prime minister about an e-mail i received last week. my wife is disabled, has a degenerative condition and is cared for in bed. due to her illness and my condition, i usually sleep in the spare bedroom. why is it fair for him and hundreds of thousands of others disabled people like him to be hit by the bedroom tax? >> as with every honorable member, if he wants me or the department to look at a specific case, of course i will. let me again make some detailed points.
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first of all, there is a fund to deal with difficult cases. let me also make the basic argument of fairness that he seems to miss. if someone is in private rented housing and receives no housing benefit, you do not get money for an extra room. if you are in private housing and do get housing benefit, you do get money for a next her room. there is a basic argument of fairness. why should we do more for people in social housing on housing benefit than in private housing on housing benefit? he has got to engage -- the housing benefit bill is now 23 billion pounds a year. we know that he is against capping welfare and we know he is against restricting welfare here below the rate of increase in wages. we know all the things he is against. we are beginning to wonder what on earth he is for.
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>> ed miliband. >> he is spending more than 8 billion pounds and he plans on housing benefit because of his economic failure during this parliament. i say to him, the whole point of social housing is to protect families, including the disabled. it does not sound like he is going to do anything for military families or the disabled, but let us talk about a group of people he is moved by. i have a letter here sent on his behalf by the conservative party treasurer about the so- called mansion tax. it says "we promise that no homes tax will be introduced during the course of this parliament." it goes on, "to keep the tax man out of your home -- please help by donating today and supporting the no homes tax campaign." can the prime minister explain, what is it about the plight of those people that he finds so much more compelling than that of those hit by the bedroom tax?
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>> if he is in favor of the mansion tax, why did he not introduce one in the 13 years in government? if he is so passionate about social housing, why did you not build any when he was in government? if he thinks we are spending too much on housing benefit, he just said the bill is going up, why does he oppose each attempt remake to get the welfare bill under control? the fact is the public can see we are in the side of people who work hard to do the right thing. all he can ever do is spend more money. >> i say to the prime minister that he should not get so hat -- he has nearly half his parliamentary party behind him. the policy is not just unfair. it is not going to work either. 4700 people are going to be hit
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by the bedroom tax -- there are 23 council problems for them to move to. can the prime minister explain how that will work? what this government is doing is building more houses and controlling bills. but frankly, the question is one -- if he opposes a welfare, opposes an increase on welfare, opposes reform of disability benefits, opposes each and every welfare change we make, how on earth is he going to get control of public spending. >> the title prime minister's questions -- now, i saw what he might say. what he might say is to move to the private rental sector because there are not enough
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council properties. this is where -- he gets up to say what those people should do -- this is where it is not going to work out. another woman who wrote him he had said, "my rent for my family home --" i do not know why they are groaning. there are thousands of their constituents who are going to be hit by this. she says "my rent for my family home is at present 65.68, where a one bedroom in the private sector would cost over 100 pounds. how can it possibly make sense to force people into a situation where they cost the state more, not less, by moving into the private rented sector? >> what this government is doing is building more homes. if he supports that, will he
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now support our changes to the planning system and the new homes bonus? will you support the things that will get more homes built and more people jobs? we have one million next her people working in the private sector. that is what he has got to engage in. he has absolutely no suggestions for how to get on top of welfare, get our deficit down, get our economy moving, or do anything else. >> today we discover he has not even got a clue about his own policy. his answers remind us of what his party and country are saying about him. the only people he listens to are a small group of rich and powerful people at the top. that is why he has come up with a policy that is unworkable and unfair. he is a prime minister who is weak, incompetent, and totally out of touch. >> that is pathetic scripted rubbish that we get used to
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every wednesday. on the issue of who listens to hill, i have a very clear idea of who he listens to, because we heard it in a the lse lecture by len mccluskey, who said this -- "i met ed miliband and he asked me this question -- if you had three wishes, three things you would like us to do if we got back into power, what would you like them to be? his answer -- trade union freedom, trade union freedom, trade union freedom. that is who he wants to be the fairy godmother to. >> at the time of the strategic defense and security review two and a half years ago, my friend said, "my strong view is that
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this structure will require year on year real-time growth in the defense budget in the years beyond 2015." does that remain his view, and has he heard any similar view expressed by the leader of the opposition? >> it does remain my view, but i am afraid to say that as far as i can see i am the only party leader who believes that in the years beyond this parliament we should increase defense spending in the way he says. but the good news is that it is agreed on policy that the difference equipment program -- defense equipment program does need increases up to 2015. that is very important for us to be able to plan the program that will give us the best armed forces anywhere in the world. >> mr. speaker, the budget for office responsibility -- office for budget responsibility,
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rather. has estimated they will pay 5 billion pounds or less for the bankers. they promised in april to inflict a 500 million pound cut in the second empty bedroom tax. how can he justify taking from the poor and giving to the rich? >> we have introduced a bank levy that we think is a better answer than a bonus tax. it will be paid every year. it should raise considerably more than the bonus tax. what the chancellor has done it when the bank levy has not come up to the amounts we need is to increase it. >> i remind the house of my
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declared interests. tomorrow these prime minister will go to brussels to argue for a substantial reduction in funding. will he ensure that any reduction applies to farmers right across europe, and not just those in the uk? will he also make sure he does not fall into the trap made by his predecessors last time around? when pressing for cuts, ended up with a cut to the part that everybody thinks is worth well, which is the rural development program and the environment. >> my friend speaks very knowledgeably about this. these are going to be extremely difficult negotiations. obviously, our aim is for the significant cut i have spoken about. the point about agriculture is important, particularly the flexibility we require to make sure things can continue to succeed. >> we know the prime minister has met lots of millionaires, but has he ever met anyone who will lose their income -- home
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because of this bedroom tax? >> i hold constituency surveys and listen to all the cases the leader of the opposition has brought up today. i have many forces who live in my constituency. what they say to me is that they want a government who is on the side of the people who will work hard and do the right thing. they support the fact that we are capping welfare, getting on top of immigration and clearing up the mess left by the other party. >> today is the united nations international day of zero tolerance to female genital mutilation. does the prime minister agree that britain should be doing all it can to combat this dreadful abuse of the human rights of women and girls overseas and here in the uk? >> i completely agree. she is right to raise this. the government has made progress by chairing a for them to look right across, including what we do overseas in terms of
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our aid program and trying to prevent the horrific practice of female genital mutilation and also make sure that here the crown prosecution services and others are aware of the law and do everything they can to make sure it is properly prosecuted. >> can the prime minister confirm that atos have declared that richard iii is fit for work? [laughter] >> that is not a constituency case that has come my way. all i can say is i hope it will engender a great historical understanding of these events amongst all our people and will be a great boost to the city of leicester. >> ian swales. >> this week's announcement of the work of the insolvency service at stockton is moving to newcastle -- it is the latest in a long series of similar announcements affecting the valley, including the closure
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of the hmrc office by the previous government. will the prime minister look to bring extra work to the office and move another public-sector agency to the valley? >> i will look very carefully at what my honorable friend says. of course we want to ensure that public-sector jobs are fairly distributed around the country, but we have to be frank and say the real need is a rebalancing with growth in the private sector to make up for the fact that public-sector jobs have declined. that is why the jobs have more than upset -- offset the decline in employment. that is why unemployment is falling around the country. >> the prime minister may not be aware of a poll by the bbc in northern ireland that shows that in all six counties of northern ireland there is now a clear majority in favor of the union. people right across northern ireland recognize that when it comes to being part of this
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united kingdom, we are better off together. >> i sometimes try to avoid opinion polls, so i have not seen that one. it sounds like it is one that will lift the spirits of almost everyone in this house, because we believe in a united kingdom and in northern ireland being part of that united kingdom. >> can the prime minister reassure his house that he still believes in increasing spending on the nhs and making sure those funds go to the front-line doctors and nurses at the front line of our service? >> i can certainly give my honorable friend that assurance. that is why we committed to increasing nhs spending during each year in this parliament, and are on course to do that. we want to make sure the money goes to the front line, and that is why the number of managers and administrators is down and the number of clinical staff is up.
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>> was of the double-dip recession, the slowdown in deficit reduction, or the projected 60% increase in national that over the next five years that led the prime minister to state he had full confidence in his chancellor? >> i have confidence in the chancellor he cut the deficit is down 25%, there are one million extra private sector jobs and we are cleaning up mess made by the party opposite. >> in dover, plans are moving forward for the building of a new hospital, after a decade in which local hospital services were decimated. can i say that we need to increase investment in the nhs and ensure a real focus on the front line? >> on this day particularly when we discuss what happened at the stafford hospital, it is a day to talk about the importance of care in our health service, the importance of the front- line, and above all the importance of really looking at quality and listening to patients.
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under this government, of course resources have been constrained, for all the reasons we discussed. but we did make a conscious choice to put more money into the nhs and get that to the front-line. that is why there are 5900 more doctors and 19,000 fewer nonclinical staff. the money is going to the front lines, but the focus needs to be on the quality and the patient's. he >> jim shannon. >> does the prime minister share the concern of the democratic unionist party about suicide levels in our society? in light of this debate, will he assure me and my party of the government's support to raise awareness of the issue and work across the devoted -- work to tackle the scourge across the united kingdom have great britain and northern ireland? >> i commend the honorable gentleman for bringing this issue forward. the issue of suicide is one we often do not talk about enough in our society and country, and i think it is absolutely right to do so.
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it is a shocking statistic that in northern ireland almost six times the number of people killed in road traffic accidents are lost to suicide. raising awareness of the issue and insuring a proper cross government strategy to help people deal with this is vital, and they are right to raise it. >> as a result of the financial mess the labour government left the country in -- >> order -- let's have a bit of order for mr. john leech. >> local councils has basis top a settlement as most of the other departments. does the prime minister share my dismay that manchester city council is choosing to close libraries, leisure centers and the warden service, while of the same time they are happy to
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spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on an alicia keys concert and leave 100 million pounds in reserves sitting in the bank? >> my honorable friend makes an important point. of coarse councils face difficult spending decisions, but if you look at the level of spending and brands they are still getting it is in many cases equivalent to what they're getting under the last government. obviously the economy has declined since then, so we have to cut our costs accordingly. they should be held accountable for the decisions that they made. in some cases there can be little doubt the councils are making high-profile cuts to try to make a point, and they should not be damaging peoples livelihoods. they should be doing the best for their cities. >> will the prime minister
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confirm for the record that thanks to his cuts to the job care element of the working tax credit, families with children are losing up to 1500 pounds a year? >> what has happened is we increased it by 390 pounds in the early budgets of this government. if we look at the benefits for a two parent, two child family, they will be getting over 1500 pounds extra this year, 30 pounds a week, compared to 2010. i'm afraid the honorable gentleman is wrong. >> will the prime minister pay tribute to the new president of somalia, whose government has made remarkable progress over the last few months? although there is still a long way to go, we agree that the somali peace process is a really good example of written combining aid and development with energizing the neighboring states and the diplomatic community worldwide. can he tell the house what role he envisages for the somali diaspora here in the uk? >> my friend makes a very
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important point. anybody wondering the relevance of somalia to hear in the uk, we have to remember that this country has been the author of huge problems, from terrorism, piracy, and mass migration. even the most hardened skeptic of our aid budget, i would say this is a case where engagement and diplomacy can help the country to mend itself for the future. in terms of the diaspora, i hope they will give their full support. or to the new president who is clearly demonstrating a huge grip in his country mending problems that have the double the country for so long. >> the prime minister's career probably peaked when he was a backbench member of the home affairs committee in 2005. will he revive his progressive courage of that time when he looks at the report from the parliamentary group on the awful problems of new drugs on the market that are not controlled in any way?
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>> i am grateful for the gentleman's view of my career trajectory. i will not ask him about his. for hats we can have an agreement about it afterwards. on the report i worked on, i learned some important lessons from that. i think the priority we should give in terms of attacking drugs, education and treatment. those are the two key arms of what needs to be done. what i do not believe we should be legalizing any drugs that are currently a legal. in terms of current legal highs and problems relating to substances like -- we need to look carefully at evidence of what will work best. >> over 80,000 people have benefited from our policy of raising the threshold at which people start to pay tax. this morning, the institute for fiscal studies confirmed that this policy is right, and that those who have the broadest shoulders are bearing the greatest burden of tax.
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in the light of this, will the government commits to raising the threshold at which people pay tax to 10,000 pounds in this budget? >> i think the honorable lady for what she said. she is absolutely right. raising the threshold at which people start to pay taxes is absolutely right. what it is meant is on minimum wage, working full the tax bill has been cut by one half. that is a huge change to help people who work hard and want to do the right thing. she mentioned the fiscal studies green budget out this morning. i have not had much time to study it, but one thing did standup. on the issue of fairness it says this -- the whole set of tax and benefit changes introduced between the start of 2010 and 2015 will hit the richest households hardest.
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this government is fair, and it is helping the hardest working. >> the leader of the opposition asked the prime minister a very simple question to which he gave no adequate reply, so i will ask it again. what is the difference between a bedroom tax on the disabled and a mansion tax on millionaires? >> i do not accept that the bedroom tax is a tax -- it is about benefit. the fact is that as a country we are spending 23 billion pounds on housing benefit. we have to have a debate in this country. the last government said we had to have a debate about that. indeed, it featured in the manifesto on which all of them were elected. since they have moved to the opposition benches, they have given up all pretense of responsibility at all. >> can the prime minister reconcile his recent comments
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on the need to accelerate major infrastructure projects with the government's decision to postpone forming a policy on airports until after the next general election? will he reconsider? >> i listen carefully to what my honorable friend says. he will find that if you look at what sir howard davis has said in terms of his review, this is a very complicated issue that merits proper examination. we need as a country to make major decisions on airports and airport capacity. we should aim as far as possible to try to make these decisions on a cross party basis. i hope the report will help that to happen. >> last night's vote on same- sex marriage is widely regarded as a historic vote. does the prime minister agree with me that this vote is hiv to all of the people down the decades to have worked -- in all parties and no party, behind
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the scenes and in public, who worked for such equality? does he also agree with me that the vote proves the arc of history bends slowly, but bands toward justice? >> i agree very much with the honorable lady. last night's vote will be seen not just as one that ensured the proper elements of equality, but also that it helps us to build a stronger and fairer society. i thought many of the speeches made last night were very moving, very emotional, and i pay tribute to all those people who have made the case, some for many years, that they want their love to count the same way that a man and woman's love for each other count. that is what we have opened in this country, and that is why i am proud the government has brought it forward. >> for years, young people have had some of the lowest per pupil school funding in the country. this is now becoming critical for down to use such as east riding of yorkshire are.
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can they look closely at not just the authorities, but specifically the low level of per pupil funding that they receive? >> i will look closely at what my honorable friend is said. i will make a couple points. one, within the education budget we have prioritized the per- pupil funding, so there has not been a reduction in per-pupil funding. they can look forward to future years the sorts of budget they will have given the children coming to the school. the second thing we have done through the academy program is to encourage the devolution of more of the schools budget to the schools directly. there is more we can achieve on that agenda. >> the prime minister has said he will give the public a strong voice in the nhs. his former health secretary has said they will put patients at the center of nhs. why then was a motion to
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strengthen patient and public involvement in the new patient watchdog rejected by the government last night? >> we do want to see patients have a stronger voice in the nhs. we are about to debate at some length how that is done. one of the most important ways of doing this will make sure that the mandate has at its heart quality nursing, quality care, and the voice of patients. we also need to look at how healthwatch will work to figure -- ensure it is truly independent. we have to understand that some of the ways we have tried to empower patients in the past, and the report goes into this, some of the ways, always with good intentions from both sides of the house, to give patients a better voice, we have to listen to what it says -- it has not worked. >> with more women in work than ever before, more men in work than ever before, more jobs created in the private sector,
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does the prime minister not agree with me that not only is the chancellor's plan working, but that the economy is beginning to turn the corner? >> i am grateful to my honorable friend. i think we should listen very carefully to what the governor of the bank of england's that is. he has said that growth is slower than we would like, but the economy is moving in the right direction and the rebalancing is taking place. of the things that need to be fixed in our economy in terms of bank lending and the housing supply, they are being fixed. that is this government is determined to do. >> one of my constituents has learned that when the bedroom tax is introduced she will 24 pounds a week to live on. she is so anxious about how she will manage, she is having cognitive behavior therapy. her anxiety is totally understandable.
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does the prime minister agree with me that those who should be receiving cognitive behavioral therapy are the ones, namely his ministers, who think that she could live on 24 pounds a week? >> i think that the parliament has to address that for 13 years in government they were perfectly content to have a housing benefit system for people in private sector housing where there was no extra benefit for empty rooms. i cannot understand why they cannot see it is unfair to have one rule for people who have the benefit of social housing with a lower rent and another rule for people in private sector accommodation. week after week, labour mp's and the labor leader have opposed this, that, and everything we do to deal with the mess that they left and fill in the deficit they left us. until they can learn they have to take in some responsibility for the mess they left, no one
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will ever listen to them. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] >> you have been watching a prime minister's questions. question time errors on wednesday when the house of commons is in session. what any time ad c-span.org where you can find video of past prime ministers questions and other british public affairs programs. >> and next, the house of commons debate on legalizing same-sex marriage. then the president obama and congressional leaders take part in the national prayer breakfast. then a hearing on the future of the federal housing administration. >> you might expect from samsung, given the brett a proper -- "-- products we have,
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appliances, televisions, one of the areas we are investing in is the multi-screen connectivity. you're on your couch watching tv, but you're also texting on your phone or looking at the internet on your tablet. how do we link those devices to each other? but we also link them to the cloud or link them to the internet? one example is the galaxy camera. we launched the galaxy camera last year. the camera is built in with connectivity, so you can take photos where you go and instantly through the wireless network upload them to a website or a social media service. bringing wireless connectivity to a camera -- linking products like that, to the internet and to each other, that is a big opportunity for us. it has great value for the consumer. >> the future of consumer
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technology with david steel, from this year's ces international. monday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern. >> tuesday, british lawmakers voted in favor of a bill to legalize same-sex marriages in the u.k. the bill also includes provisions to protect religious organizations and individuals from being forced to perform same-sex marriages. the bill must be approved by the house of lords. here is a 90 minute portion of the debate. >> the marriage of same-sex couples bill will not be read for the second time. you and i know that every marriage is different. any husband or wife of a member of this house has a very distinct set of challenges to face every day.
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what marriage offers us all as a lifelong partner to share our journey. a loving stable relationship to stake -- to strengthen us. mitch will support throughout our lives. i believe that this is something that should be embraced by more couples. the depths of feeling, love, and commitment is no different among same-sex couples and opposite sex couples. this bill enables society to recognize that commitment in the same way through marriage. parliament should value people equally in the law and enabling same-sex couples to marry removes the current differentiation and distinction. there is no single tube from religious organizations on marriage. some are deeply opposed. some see this as an opportunity to take their faith to a wider community. >> will the right honorable
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lady give the house a cast-iron guarantee that, if the bill becomes law, no religious denomination, no place of worship and no clergyman-or equivalent in other religions- will be forced through legal action in the courts or in the european community to carry out weddings against their wishes? >> the right honorable gentleman pre-empts some of the later parts of my contribution. i can tell him that we have taken seriously all the points that he has raised about the need for protection. he will see how we have put those measures in the bill in some detail. >> is my right honorable friend aware of the letter that was written to honorable members by lord carey of clifton on the issue of equality between same- sex and different-sex couples? in it, he talks about, "the
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failure of the government to address the important issues of consummation and adultery. while these concepts will continue to remain important aspects of heterosexual marriage, they will not apply to homosexual marriage. on the one hand, this does nothing to promote the ideal that marriage is both equal and should be a lifelong union." >> my honorable friend will know that there is already no legal requirement for consummation. our provisions will mean that adultery stays as it is and that couples will have the opportunity to cite unreasonable behaviour, as do many already. the issues that he raises are dealt with very well in that way. as i was saying, there is no single view on equal marriage from religious organisations. i also know that some colleagues in the house feel that they cannot agree with the bill for principled religious reasons, and i entirely respect that stance. i do not think that it is the role of the government to tell
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people what to believe, but i do think that parliament and the state have a responsibility to treat people fairly. >> will the minister take this early opportunity to confirm that the opponents of the bill, including many hundreds of my constituents, are not homophobic, not bigots and not barking? >> my honorable friend makes his point very well. >> i very much support the bill, but i regret that it is being programmed. consideration should be on the floor of the house and there should be two days for the second reading debate so that those on both sides of the argument can fully express their views. >> my honorable friend knows that i take these matters very seriously indeed. we have to ensure that there is
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sufficient debate, and i think that we have made sure through the usual channels that that is the case. i hope that he will be pleased with the progress that we have made on that. >> i should like to make a little more progress. i will take some more interventions in a moment. some say that the bill redefines marriage, but marriage is an institution with a long history of adaptation and change. in the 19th century, catholics, baptists, atheists and many others were allowed to marry only if they did so in an anglican church, and in the 20th century, changes were made to recognise married men and married women as equal before law. suggestions that the bill changes something that has remained unchanged for centuries simply do not recognise the road that marriage has travelled as an institution. >> will the minister bear in mind the fact that there was a
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great deal of opposition to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967? i voted for the bill, but there was much opposition to it. does she agree that today hardly a single member would wish to return to the situation prior to the 1967 bill and that it is possible that if this measure is passed it will be generally accepted in the same way within a few years? >> i am sure the honorable gentleman is right in what he says. what we have to do is not just legislate for today, but for the future. >> i am going to support the bill tonight because i think the principle is right: i am not sure why i should enjoy a right or a privilege that is denied to others. but why has the minister not
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confined herself to civil marriage? would that not be a much easier area for parliament to deal with? >> the honorable gentleman will know that many religious organisations have expressed an interest in being able to undertake same-sex marriages. we believe it is right for them to be able to do that. that is why the bill contains provisions for them to do that, if they so choose. >> if honorable members will allow me to make a little more progress, i shall take more interventions later. as we have heard, marriage should be defended and promoted in every way. to those who argue that civil partnerships exist and contain very similar rights, that marriage is "just a word" and that this bill is unnecessary, i say that that is not right. a legal partnership is not perceived in the same way and does not have the same promises of responsibility and commitment as marriage.
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all couples in a lifelong commitment should be able to collect marriage. >> i will vote for the bill's second reading because i support the principle that the minister has just enunciated, but the last intervention made an important point about ensuring that we legislate carefully on those things that the state can deal with, which is civil marriage, and not trespass on religious beliefs. will she make it absolutely clear that she will be open both in committee and on report to amendments that might give us a much better balance and be capable of reassuring many more people? >> my right honorable friend is right to raise this issue. what i can do is reassure him that we have been working very closely with the church of england and the church in
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wales, and both organisations feel that there is a set of protections, which the church of england in particular said it did not want to see changed. >> on religious organisations, the minister will know that 5% of the uk population is muslim. what proportion of the muslim community responded to the consultation? how many were for it and how many were against it? my understanding is that not a single mosque responded by supporting the redefinition of marriage. >> my honorable friend will know that this issue is not about numbers; it is about working together and providing protections to make sure that individuals from whatever faith group can continue to be assured that they can practise according to their faith. that is the point of today's debate. >> i very much welcome the bill, but does the minister
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understand the disappointment of those who believe that the church of england is not being given the choice accorded to other faiths to marry same-sex couples if they so choose and that far from being forced to marry same-sex couples, the church of england is being forced not to marry them, even if some elements would like to do so? >> i can give the honorable lady complete reassurance today that this bill is not in any way trying to treat the church of england or indeed the church in wales differently. the end result for the churches will be exactly the same as for other religious institutions. the difference, of which i am sure she will be aware, is that the church of england and the church in wales have different duties under common law to marry people in their parishes. the canon law of the established church of england is part of the law of the land, so we need different measures in place to recognise those differences. i absolutely assure her that if
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either of those organisations chose to opt in to same-sex marriage, the provisions of the bill would allow them to do so. >> if honorable members will allow me to make a little more progress, we can have further interventions later. it is clear from the contributions we have just heard that there is no doubt about the fundamental importance of faith in this country today, but i do not believe that as a country we have to choose between religious belief and fairness for same-sex couples. it is important to remember that religious views on same- sex marriage differ, too. the quakers, the unitarians and the liberal jewish communities have all said that they want to conduct same-sex marriages. indeed, paul parker, who speaks for the quakers, said that the first same-sex marriage in a quaker meeting will be, "a
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wonderful day for marriage, and...religious freedom". we have to respect and take note of that. our proposals will ensure that all religious organisations can act in accordance with their beliefs because equal marriage should not come at the cost of freedom of faith, nor freedom of faith come at the cost of equal marriage. we are capable of accommodating both. this bill does so in a very straightforward manner. >> will the right honorable lady assure us that, if at any time in the future the european court of human rights ruled that a church not wishing to conduct a gay wedding ceremony was in breach of a discrimination act, we would defy the european court and not try to placate it as we did over prisoner voting?
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>> my honorable friend will find the sort of detail and the assurances he is looking for in a later part of my speech. >> the right honorable lady is absolutely right about the importance of faith. i as a christian have no worries about voting for this bill. what greater example of the equalities agenda could there be than jesus christ himself? >> the honorable gentleman makes a powerful point, which shows that views on this matter do not follow party lines or lines of membership of a particular religious institution, but are far more nuanced than that. >> let me make a tiny bit of progress before taking further interventions. i shall now deal with the bill's provisions.
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as honorable members will know, it has three parts. part 1 enables same-sex couples to marry in civil ceremonies and allows religious organisations to opt in, while protecting those that do not. it also protects religious ministers and allows for the conversion of a civil partnership to a marriage. part 2 enables an individual to change their legal gender without having to end their marriage. it also provides for overseas marriages in consulates or on armed forces bases. part 3 allows for the standard final provisions, including secondary legislation. as honorable members will have seen when they studied the detail of the bill, i have been true to my word and ensured that there is clear protection of all religious organisations and ministers who are opposed to this measure. all religious organisations- whether they be jewish, muslim, christian or any other-will be able to decide for themselves if they want to conduct same-
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sex marriages. the bill provides for and promotes religious freedom through the government's quadruple lock. these protections are absolutely carved on the face of the bill and are the foundation on which the legislation is built. >> will the minister explain why the government are bringing this bill forward now when it was not in the queen's speech, when it has not been the subject of a green or a white paper and when the government promised to do other things, such as bring in married couple's tax allowances, that they are not doing? is not the truth of the matter that this is about low political calculation and detoxifying the tory brand rather than anything to do with principle? >> the right honorable gentleman and i will have to disagree on that. what we are doing is clearly an
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important part of the way in which we can make this country a fairer place in which to live, and the measure was clearly flagged up in our document "a contract for equalities" at the time of the election. i can tell him that we will continue to work with our colleagues in northern ireland to ensure that there is the right recognition of english and welsh same-sex marriages in that part of the united kingdom as well. >> the minister has referred to the protections in the bill, but we have already seen the case of mr adrian smith, who lost his job, spent an enormous amount of money on legal fees, and suffered a 40% cut in his salary after making a private comment on a facebook site. how, in future, are we to protect people like mr smith who are working in the public sector up and down the country? >> my honorable friend, who i know takes a deep interest in these matters, is entirely right to raise that point, but the case he has highlighted proves that individuals can
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express their religious beliefs. the court found in that individual's favour, which i think is important and should be noted by employers throughout the country. >> the minister has spoken about protections for religious ministers. can she offer the same protections to registrars? given that the number of mixed- sex marriages should not be expected to fall, can registrars be confident that even if they decline to take on and preside over the new same- sex marriage registrations, they will not lose their jobs or experience negative employment consequences? >> as my honorable friend will know, civil registrars are public servants. recent court rulings have made clear that they must balance carefully their right to a religious belief with their equal right to ensure that they provide services in a way that does not discriminate against individuals.
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it is a very difficult issue, but i know that he has raised it for the right reasons, and i am sure that it will be considered very closely in committee. >> roman catholic spain legalised same-sex marriage in 2005. does my right honorable friend know whether there has been a single referral to the european court of human rights? >> none that i am aware of. >> my right honorable friend failed to answer the question put by the right honorable member for belfast north. can she tell the house, and the people of this country, where she has a mandate to inflict this massive social and cultural change?
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it was not in our party's manifesto, and the prime minister told adam boulton on sky that he had no plans to introduce it. there are many major issues with which the country needs to deal. this is an irrelevance, and it should not be pursued through the house, least of all with a three-line whip on a programme motion that gives us no real opportunity to debate it. >> my fellow hampshire member and i know that we disagree on this matter, but we do so in a very fair and even-handed manner, and i want to ensure that that fairness and even- handedness are present in all aspects of the government's policy. i think that there is an extremely strong argument for the bill to be passed, and i am presenting it today. the purpose of parliamentary debates is to discuss such matters in more detail. >> i think that i should make a little more progress. i will take further interventions in a moment. i know that for many of my colleagues, the crux of the issue lies in the protections
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that i have mentioned, particularly the protections for the church of england and the church in wales. they have a unique position because of the legal duty of their clergy to marry their parishioners, and furthermore, because the church of england is the established church, its canon law is part of the law of the land. as i said to the honorable member for brighton, pavilion, the bill provides for no disadvantageous or, indeed, favourable treatment for the church of england or the church in wales. it simply provides a pragmatic way of putting them in essentially the same position as other religious organisations. if they decide that they want to marry same-sex couples, they can do so. we have worked hard with a wide range of religious organisations, including both those churches, to ensure that the protections in the bill work. indeed, the church of england has commented on the constructive way in which we have consulted it about effective legal safeguards, ensuring that its concerns are properly accommodated.
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the church in wales has confirmed that the bill gives it protection, while still enabling it to make its own decision on same-sex marriage. let me now turn to an issue that has already been raised many times today: the question of legal protections and the european convention on human rights. there has been much discussion about the powers of the european court of human rights, but i believe that its case law is clear: the question of whether- and if so, how-to allow same- sex marriage must be left to individual states to decide for themselves. "it is simply inconceivable that the court would require a faith
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group to conduct same-sex marriages in breach of its own doctrines." those are not my words, but the words of the eminent qcs lord pannick, baroness kennedy and lord lester. the belief that the court would order the uk to require religious organisations to marry same-sex couples in contravention of their religious doctrine relies on a combination of three highly improbable conclusions. the first is that the court would need to go against its own clear precedent that countries have wide discretion in the matter of same-sex marriage. the second is that the court would need to decide that the interests of a same-sex couple who wanted a particular religious organisation to marry them outweighed the rights and beliefs of an entire faith and its congregation as a whole.
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the third is that the court would need to discountthirdly, o discount the importance of article 9 on its own convention, which guarantees freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, and it would be rewriting the rules, not just for one religious organization in england and wales but for all religious organizations in all 47 states of the council of europe. such an outcome, mr. speaker, i believe it is inconceivable. >> i think my friend for giving way. our sexuality is fundamental to who we are. surely, the crux of this debate is the question of whether or not we accord equal rights, respect, it is deemed to people regardless of their sexuality. >> my honorable friend has made
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her point very powerfully. this is at the heart of what we are talking about today. >> i think my right honorable friend for giving way. she is making a powerful case for religious freedom. did she observed over the weekend the church of england's statement that it is not realistic or likely that churches would be forced to conduct same-sex weddings? >> i am glad that my honorable friend is able to underline that point, because i really do not want anybody to leave this debate today without the right information on which they can base their decisions to vote, and i think my honorable friend really does underline the importance of the facts in this case. if the honorable ladies and gentleman can forgive me, i will make what progress, because, as you have said, mr. speaker, there is a great deal of interest in participating in this debate. members also need to understand the consequences of this bill
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more widely. the introduction will not marginalize those who believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. that is clearly a mainstream view, but neither will continue to marginalize those who believe marriage can and should also be between a man and a man or a woman and a woman. we will not allow one to exist at the expense of the other. no misguided sense of political correctness will be allowed to impinge on this. it will be deeply divisive if, in writing a wrong for some, which created a wrongful others. no teacher will be required to promote warrantors views which go against their beliefs. no hospital chaplain or worker will have to be in a new definition of marriage. no religious minister will have to conduct same-sex weddings. if the changes we are talking about, they are choosing to live
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in a society that values tolerance and respect among its citizens. >> i think the secretary of state for allowing me. is there anything at all in the provisions of this bill that she can think of which would harm or disadvantage any heterosexual person in any way whatsoever, whether of faith or of not? >> i can say to my right honorable friend, no. i believe in strengthening marriage in the way we are talking, it will actually be of benefit to all people in our society. i give way to my honorable friend. >> she has made it clear that she would not introduce a bill to this house that in any way in pinched on the religious freedom of churches or ministers. if during the passage of this bill there may be attempts, given this is a house with a free vote, too unpick those locks or find other ways to
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introduce same-sex marriage into the churches, where she then withdraw her support? >> there are protections in place as they are, and i would be joining my honorable friend in saying that any such maneuvers would be very much counterproductive. i give way to be very honorable gentleman. >> one of the key issues that has been raised with me is how schools will handle the curriculum in relation to this matter, particularly faiths goals. i am inclined to support this legislation this evening, but can the secretary say a bit more? can she say a bit more about how this will be handled in the school curriculum, particularly in face a school was? >> the honorable gentleman is right to bring that out in more detail. he will have seen what the secretary of state reported over the weekend, and i think the point is to make clearly to the house today that teachers, of course, would be expected to explain, as, indeed,
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professionals, as they would, about the law around marriage, but we would never expect them against their beliefs. this clears up some of the misunderstandings and some of the literature that has been putting around this debate today. i give my honorable friend, of course, i cannot say no to, but then i must wind up. >> can to clarify when she says that nobody would be forced to teach anything against their conscience? what about those that want to have a christian or other face of view of marriage? will they continue to do so? can guarantee that no teacher that actively does so will be sued or prosecuted?
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>> i think my right honorable friend will know already there are ways for them to be able to talk about their beliefs when it comes to issues like marriage, but as with many other areas like marriage, whether it is to do with divorce or children being born outside of marriage, teachers have to deal with these issues sensitively, and i think that, of course, is the point he is getting at, but just to reiterate, we would expect teachers to be professionally explaining these issues to the children that they teach but absolutely no way requiring them to promote something that does not accord with their belief, their fates, and i think that is right. mr. speaker, if the honorable ladies and gentlemen can forgive me, i want to conclude in order to give individuals their own time to contribute to this debate. mr. speaker, despite all the discussions in this debate, i think this bill is about one
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thing. it is about fairness. it is about giving those who want to get married the opportunity to do so, while protecting the rights of those who do not agree with same-sex marriage. marriage is one of the most important institutions we have. it binds families and society together. it is a building block that promotes stability. this bill supports and cultivates marriage, and i commend this bill to the house. >> mr. speaker, it really is a speaker -- pleasure to follow the honorable gentleman, which i think has articulated the things that we have struggled with but have come to the conclusion that marriage should not be an exclusive institution. mr. speaker, i have to declare an interest. i am a gay man that grew up in a world part of our country in a working-class background -- in a rural part of our country, and i
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grew up in a time which made it difficult to be open and honest with my family, friends, and my workmates about the choices i wanted to take and the people i wanted to see. that was unacceptable 20 some odd years ago. it is unacceptable today, but for many across our country, it remains the case, so i am standing here today to welcome this historic legislation, which i think will end discrimination or send a signal that this house about use everybody equally across our country, and that will deeply affect those people, like me, 20 years ago, who saw this house and vote to equalize. that was the first time i had seen on a live television screen. i realized i was not alone, and it changed my life. but we should all remember that
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thousands of gay men and lesbian women were put to death in concentration camps. 40 years ago, many had their lives ruined. we still had people being subjected to scientific search of a cure. we have come a long way in a short amount of time. it is time that we drillable -- deliver full equality. and let me say that this is a view that is borne out of a hatred of discrimination of all types, whether it is gender or skin color or religion. we should be value in diversity and treating everybody equally. these values are enshrined in the motto of one for all. it is a community i am proud to represent, one that values
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humility. it is not a part if you are black or apart if you are catholic or a part of if you are gay. this is exactly why my right honorable friend, the secretary, is right. not to compel religious organizations to do what they are not want to do. this is preserving religious freedom. we must also question -- question those who want to court privilege for themselves. we know that marriage is an important institution that delivers many positive benefits, benefits in terms of stability, in terms of health, in terms of happiness. if we recognize those benefits, then why would we keep them away from some proof if they choose to and their faith allows it. we would not tolerate this level of discrimination in any other
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sphere of life, and we should and it in this one. mr. speaker, equal marriage will not be the end of the struggle for gay equality, in the same way that delivering the franchise to women or eliminating apartheid did. but this will allow to ask the right questions. that we value everybody equally. >> hear, hear. >> thank you, mr. deputy speaker, and let me thank the gentleman for his honest contribution to this debate. i know that it is probably going to be much different to the best majority in my own party, and i respect that difference, but for the first time in history, our government is proposing a bill that will change the very nature of marriage and the law.
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primarily as an institution that supports british civic light -- life. >> sir roger. >> i think my honorable friend. to concur. mr. deputy speaker, i had the privilege of chairing this of a partnership built through the committee with the house of commons. as has been said, given from the government and by the opposition benches at the time that this was not a paving bill for same- sex marriage. this was in itself designed to make right to very considerable wrongs. that it did, and that is what the european court of human rights determined. in that respect, it is
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indistinguishable from what we know as marriage. my right honorable friend told me that no government could, and of course, she is correct. no government can find another. that kicks the bottom out of every undertaking that my right honorable friend has given. to most of us on this side of the house that this bill, bill will end up before the courts, will end up before the european court of human rights, and that people of faith will find that faith being trampled on is, to us, intolerable. the cabinet paper -- i give way to my right honorable friend if she wishes to correct me, but i understand that the cabinet paper was titled redefining marriage. it is not possible to redefine
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the marriage. marriage is the union between a man and a woman. it has been historically and remains so. it is alice in wonderland or orwellian for anyone to seek to come along and try to rewrite the lexicon. it will not do. there is a way forward. it has been suggested but has been ignored. i do not subscribe to it myself, but i recognize the merits of the argument. and that is this. if the government is serious about this, abolish the civil partnerships. abolish the civil marriage, and create a civil union bill that applies to all people irrespective of their sexuality or their relationship. that means brothers and brothers and sisters and sisters as well. that would be a way forward. this is not.
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i urge you. >> can i just suggest very gently to the honorable gentleman is that what he has suggested is profoundly offensive not only to a great number of people in this country who have formed several partnerships but to quite a few people on both sides of this house. >> the merits of the argument are not mine. it is from a very honorable lawyer. it is what the german ones, equality. it would create fairness, and it would leave marriage and faith to those understand that marriage means faith and that marriage means between a man and a woman and nothing else. and to the honorable gentleman, what i promise him is that inside this house and without it, there are very many people who share this view. i urge members on both sides of this house not to abstain.
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if they support this measure, vote for it. if they vote against it, vote against it, as i shall myself. >> thank you, mr. deputy speaker. marriage is one of the most important institutions in our society. it concerns many of us. yet, while many move away from marriage, one group turns towards it. gay couples are now asking to be admitted. so now we have a section society saying they want to have a commitment. they value this in the site of the public and perhaps in god. we defenders of marriage should be gratefully opening the doors, and yet the reaction of some has been to slam the door shut. it has been said that gay people should accept several partnerships and no more, which confer the legal rights of a marriage. thousands have cause to be grateful for the courage of the
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members that voted for that change, as entering a single partnership is the most important thing i have done in my life. and then civil partnerships were opposed by churches and by many in the public and by many honorable members. a few years later, only a few people oppose them, and some now support it, but people choose marriage for a reason. they know that it means something special. indeed, it is because marriage is different that many are opposing this change. we cannot say that it is the same or dismiss it as being about a name. and how many married couples would like to be told that they were banned from matrimony and are only allowed to have a civil partnership. their religious freedom is among the greatest prizes of the democracy. i would not vote for this bill
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unless i believed it protected religious freedom. religious freedom cuts both ways. why should the law prevent unitarian churches from conducting these marriages, as they want to do? for them to exercise their consciences and disagree, i do not believe there is sufficient grounds. you do not have to enter a gay marriage. your church does not have to conduct a gay marriage. you simply have to agree that someone else can enter a gay marriage are the lives of millions of straight people about to be threatened? what will they say? darling, our marriage is over. sir elton john has just been engaged to david. serious points made.
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assuring religious freedom is protected is a proper concern. some of the objections do not bear scrutiny. some believe there is a terrible flop in the bill. many loving heterosexual relationships exist without consummation. the minority view. >> i am grateful for my right honorable friend. does he agree with me that cheating legal equality is absolutely critical but it is only part of the battle? >> i strongly agree with my right honorable friend. i believe that those who do not share this view nevertheless have the principal concern that a marriage would define the institution for everyone. yet, parliament has repeatedly done this. if marriage had not been
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defined, there would be no civil marriage. if it had not been redefined in 1949, then 16-year-olds would still be able to get married. if it had not been redefined in 1969, we would not have that today's divorce laws, and all of these changes were opposed. >> raising advocacy and giving him a moment to speak, but can i agree with him that the definition of marriage is, in fact, what it means most to us as individuals, that i believe it is about a loving, long-term relationship, and that is something that should be celebrated and open to all in our society. >> i agree. when i was born, -- not so long ago, it was possible to sack
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someone because they are gay. they didn't so much has changed in my lifetime. this should be celebrated, but we should not believe that the journey is complete. i think of that day children that are still believed in schools. i think of vital role models is still do not feel able to come out, and i know the signal we send today about whether the lawfully recognizes the place of gay people in our society, whether it will really matter. i think of two people, faithful and loving, the simply what it to be recognized. and that, in the end, is what this bill is about. millions will be watching us today, not just gay people but those who want to live in a society where people are treated equally and accepted for what they are. they will remember our words and
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our votes. i hope, again, this house will do the right thing. >> we should, indeed, treat each other with tolerance, and everyone else's section melody with standing. but what we will be decided is whether english law should be clear for the first time whether two people of the same sex should marry. we have to be very careful that a lot and reality do not conflict. in 1648, the charlotte pembrook, seeking to make eight parts -- point that parliament was sovereign, they said they could do anything that makes a man a woman and a woman a man. and they did that with the gender recognition act later. we are making start changes with the essence of marriage, and during the civil partnership debates, i was given solemn
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assurances on the floor of the house by some people sitting opposite to me now that the civil partnership bill would not lead to full same-sex marriage, and i have to notice the gentleman who gave their assurances to me. >> assurances from me are not necessarily point to determine the future of what happens in parliament, but i say to the honorable gentleman, and several others have raised about what i said then. at the time, i believe that civil partnership was the be all, and all, and since then, i have entered the civil partnership, and time has moved on. we now know that britain's mine has changed, and we want to reflect that in the law. >> you see, the worry that some of us have is that the world may, in the gentleman's mind,
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may move on again, and the assurances that he is giving will not count for very much. >> that this parliament is sovereign, it matters not what anyone says, because we can trump that with any law. it is not the first time he has been wrong, by the way. voting forcible partnerships. then we are confronted with thousands of people in our country who want to enter the civil partnerships who really want to be married, and that is what this bill is about. >> and that is precisely now what i want to talk about. what is marriage? the catechism of the roman catholic church. of anybody of any faith or no faith that supports the tradition of marriage can echo these words. marriage is a covenant where a
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man and a woman it established itself in the partnership for the whole of life. it is for the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring. what does this tell us? marriage, i believe, and millions of our citizens believe, marriage is, by its nature, a heterosexual union. it is the bringing together of one man and one woman. it is not just a romantic attachment, which can exist between any two people. it is not just a sexual relationship. it is the active marriage which, by its definition, requires two people of opposite sexes. if you take that basic requirement away, what you are left with is not a marriage. they claim that marriage has always been evolving, but this, mr. deputy speaker, is not
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evolution. it is a revolution. with six children. i understand not every family has children or may want to. but this does not change the fact that this form of marriage has always been bestowed with a vision of procreation. every marriage as the procreation that brings together the to the elements needed to generate a child. the very reason that marriage is underpinned with laws and customs is because children usually often result from it. they need protection from the adults that want to break their ties and cast off their responsibilities. marriage exists to keep parents exclusively committed to one another. it is the most stable environment for children. if marriage was solely about the
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relationship between two people, we would not bother to enshrine it in law, nor would every culture and society and religion for thousands of years and invested it with so much importance, because it is about protecting the future. marriage is not about me, me, me. it is not about my rights. it is not about my relationships being legally valid data. it is about raising children based on a lifelong commitment of the exclusivity. it is also profoundly pro-woman since it is that men have the greater propensity to wander off. it is the women who are often left holding the baby. we have to get away from the idea that everything in life can be forced through the prism of equality.
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i am a conservative. we have to be concerned of equality but not at the expense of every other consideration. not at the expense of tradition. we should be protecting cherished institutions and our culture. what, if not that, is the conservative party for? with no one to vote for. i would just add this comment. as a gay woman, i commend you for your stand against this nonsense now being perpetrated by the government. we have civil partnerships to give legal protections. i contracted one in 2006. i have been a conservative and see this final bill as a kick in the teeth. i, for one, a deputy speaker, will be voting with my support
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for the future of children and the essence of traditional marriage. >> thank you, mr. speaker. it is a pleasure to follow the honorable man. i feel as though for the last six months, there has been a certain distress about the way the debate has been managed and the pressure that has been put on so many of my colleagues from pressure groups and churches to, in my view, should have known better and the tactics they deployed. i feel i have been laboring under a false sense of security given the changes that have been made legislatively over the last decade. a false date of security. but i am indebted to the minister, not just for this bill but also for changes he has brought about within my party, which has led to me and many others and has changed the face of the parliamentary party, but
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i do feel that as a result of this debate, not today but over the last months, we may have gone two steps forward, but we may also have gone two steps backward. it is not yet complete. i will give way to the honorable lady. >> i think the honorable lady for giving way. has she, like me, been particularly angered and frustrated by the tactics by the director of the coalition of marriage, who is sending emails, urging people to write to their saying, "you will be held accounts for it. we will tell your friends and family." this is a free vote. members should be voting with a free conscience, not because of
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future of the act will promises. >> the honorable lady has made her point far better than i could have myself. some have deliberately and consistently misinterpreted the government's actions by pretending that we were forcing churches to marry same-sex couples. that was never the intention of this government. i and other colleagues would not have supported it. , who -- and the church of england said it is not realistic that churches would be forced to conduct same-sex weddings. it is so easy to say that now when practically everyone i meet who does not follow this say, "it is about weddings for
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gay people in churches, isn't it?" this includes members of my own association, and i would like to put on record my appreciation of those who have treated me with courtesy and respect, so that i can in conscience support this bill without fear or favor. many believe we are legislating for gay weddings in churches, and we are not. that is of an infanticidal possibility. nobody can legislate against somebody challenging this in the courts, but the case law in the european court of human rights makes it infinitesimally unlikely that any such challenge would succeed. yes. >> you are making a very powerful speech. dishy agree with me that there are many countries in europe who are members of the council of europe who have introduced same-
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sex marriage while at the same time protecting religious freedom? >> i think the honorable lady for her intervention, and she is absolutely right. from austria and the european court of human rights said there was no litigation on any country, on any secular government, to guarantee the rights of gay people to marry each other. another point that has been made in this debate, mr. jocketty speaker, is that the quality is not what matters and that we are different and that we should celebrate our differences i agree that we should celebrate the differences. but having been different for most of my life, mr. deputy speaker, i can assure you that being treated equal is very welcome, indeed, and we still have some way to go, not just in
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the area of gay people, but i believe my party should never flinched from the requirement that we must continue this progression. otherwise, we may and ourselves up like a republican party who lost an election last year that they could have one where it not for their socially conservative agenda. one last point which has not been raised, and that is, mr. deputy speaker, that gay people have always been free to marry as long as they choose somebody of the opposite sex to marry. this has been true for reasons that are well known. many gay people appreciate the civil partnerships but do want more. they do want the status of marriage, and i am particularly thinking of the younger gay people who did not have to grow up in the environment that some of us had to grow up in, and i support their right to declare
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their love in the state of marriage, and i can assure that it will not undermine it judicially. >> mr. deputy speaker, i want to say misgivings about this bill. i am not going to vote against it tonight because i do not oppose it being scrutinized by committee. my honorable friend has spoken about the church of england marriage service, and i think he has been right to do so, not on the basis that the church of england says it must be true but on the basis that the church of england was the custodian of marriage in britain for hundreds of years, and for many people, it still is. >> can i point out that the church of england has never been the custodian in scotland's? >> he is absolutely right. the 1662 version, there are
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three reasons set out for marriage, the first of which was that it was ordained for the creation of children to be brought up in this year and nurture of the lord, and the central problem with this bill, it seems to me, is it introduces a definition of marriage which comprises numbers two and three from the list, and it drops number one, and the result is a good deal weaker from the original. >> i was not young when i got married. it was highly unlikely after all of that time that i would be able to procreate. is he telling me that my marriage is less value than anyone else's? >> that was the case 351 years
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ago, as well. but children are at the heart of marriage. but they are barely mentioned in the bill. it talks about the benefits of marriage, to people excluded at the moment, but it is doing it by taking away a significant part of its meeting. children is the reason marriage has always been so important. if it was purely about a loving relationship between two, then it would be much less important than it has actually been. does that matter? i think it does. it is right for society to recognize, as marriage does, the value to all of us of the contribution of those who both bring people into the world and bring them up. that is the idea that the
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current definition of marriage reflects. it will be a mistake to lose the value which that places on the creation and the bringing up of children, and in the end, it it will be children who lose out if we do. >> following the gentleman's argument about the importance of marriage for children, is he suggesting that perhaps children should only be adopted by couples who are married? or that somehow, children within a same-sex parentage have a lesser right to have loving parents who are married? >> jocketty speaker, i am not saying either of those things. i am just saying for those two who have created the child to bring that child up. legal equality, mr. speaker, was delivered quite rightly by the introduction of civil
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partnerships, and if there are weaknesses in those arrangements, they should be put right. in particular, i see no problem with same-sex unions being celebrated in congregations where they are willing to do so. they can have the same wish to affirm and have the right to form a lifelong, exclusive commitment as a man and woman getting married, and we should value that and be willing to recognize and celebrate it, but this bill does not a firm that same-sex unions are equal with marriage, rather that they are the same, whereas they are not. they are different. mr. deputy speaker, i think we will be poorer if we adopt a watered-down definition based on two from the church list rather than all three. >> mr. jeopardy speaker, it is
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quite obvious from the tone of this debate that this legislation presents many problems for people both in this chamber and beyond. i think constituents and colleagues who are neither a prejudiced or homophobic believe it is able to change the meaning of marriage, which is what this bill seeks to do. people with deep religious beliefs see this attempt to change the law as an undermining of a fundamental institution, and now, i think by its very introduction, this bill has now undermines civil partnerships which were so celebrated a few years ago. i understand many younger people are not bothered by this bill, but many older people do not understand this government's imperative to change the law. there may be a case for examining any legal disadvantages that exist for same-sex couples and
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strengthening and weaknesses in the civil partnership legislation, but this legislation was not in our manifesto. and it was not in the queen's speech. it should not have been introduced before a much fuller discussion had taken place, particularly, i believe, within my own party. >> may i show my puzzlement as to why the prime minister looked at introducing it just before an election? >> mr. deputy speaker, i believe there have been many conflicting messages coming out, and the honorable lady has just alluded to one of them. with a meeting i attended only a few weeks ago with the new archbishop of canterbury, one of the bishops actually told us that the church had not been fully consulted, and i believe,
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only a few weeks ago, the church had been fully involved in all discussions of this matter. if the government had sought to redefine civil partnerships, or, indeed, if they could really assure the religious freedoms that they are promising would stick, i think more people would have been persuaded to support this legislation. >> i think my right honorable friend. would she accept that for some of us, it is not exactly ideal, but that is the only way making the point that while debating it has merit, it is not conclusively, and while i am not implacably opposed to change, i do need to be convinced that it is necessary and properly thought through, and they have not even been able to deal with the basic details. >> i am glad i allowed the
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honorable lady to intervene. this is on both sides of the house, as well. i believe they are doing the impossible, trying to change the meaning of the word marriage, and as no government is able to protect our religious freedoms, i am going to a problem supporting this bill tonight. the archbishop put it very simply in a television interview. he said simply, "there are issues." i believe the issues cannot be resolved, and it is with great sadness that i am not able to support this bill tonight. >> tepid to speaker, i thought long and hard about speaking in this. i genuinely feared that tons debate, so when colleagues talked about the gay marriage making them physically sick, or
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when colleagues suggested that it was a step toward legalizing polygamy or incest -- >> will he -- >> no, i will not. the words spoken in this chamber are heard far be on this chamber when we speak. now, mr. deputy speaker, when i was elected to this house in 2010, it was, perhaps, the proudest day of my life. i should point out, the second brightest day of my life, because my proudest day was when i entered into my civil partnership with my partner of 21 years. after the partnership was a huge step forward for us, and yet, many argue that we should be content with our civil partnership. after all, it affords all of the same legal protections of marriage.
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but i asked my married colleagues, did you get married for the legal protections it before did you? did you go down and say, "please give me the protections marriage affords us?" of course not. civil partnership was the way of saying to my friends and my family's, "this is who i love. this is who i am. this is you i wish to spend the rest of my life with." mr. deputy speaker, i am not asking for special treatment. i am simply asking for equal treatment. sometimes leadership is about doing what is right, not what is popular, and i congratulate the prime minister in leading this. this issue has caused anxiety among colleagues and among constituents. some argue it is not the right
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time, and yet, no one has been able to explain to me what the right time looks like, so if not today, when. monday? next week? next year? it is the right time, and we should simply get on with it. mr. deputy speaker, so much time in this house is spent on legislation. today, we have the opportunity to do what is right, to do some good. i am a member of this parliament. i say to my colleagues, i sit alongside you in committees, in the bars and the tea rooms. i am beside you, but when it comes to marriage, why are you asking me to stand apart or to join a separate line? i asked my colleagues, if by an equal, give me every opportunity to be equal. today, we have a chance to set things right, and i hope my
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colleagues will be joining me this evening. >> mr. deputy speaker, may i first put on record my appreciation for doing a fantastic job of informing the only us but the wider public about this issue. i oppose this legislation for five key reasons. the first, i believe it is simply wrong, in principle. to overturn centuries of this requires proper explanation. what wisdom is certainly on my friends that has been not given to our forbearers? for the chancellor and secretary to say that marriage has evolved over time is simply disingenuous. as was pointed out, nothing like this has been proposed in parliament ever before. this is a massive change.
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this legislation deeply affects a core value of our society through the challenge proposes to the whole institution of marriage. references have been made to spain, which introduce similar legislation in 2005 and where the overall marriage rate has fallen. children raised in married households with a mother and father tend to do better than those not, it affects the life chances of the nation's children. and others have pointed out, as well, neither the prime minister nor either -- and the other party has a mandate, let alone in the coalition agreement. the prime minister has stuck to the target for aid on what he had said previously. he stuck to that commitment but not to the commitment for introducing tax breaks for married couples, and he has
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specifically had legislation that has ruled this out. >> does my honorable friend think that the least that should be done is that we should have a draft bill would pre-legislative scrutiny? >> absolutely. i think this goes to the heart of the point that as conservatives, we are cautious about constitutional change, but not this administration. major changes in the law of succession, and now this bill. this is no way to treat parliament or colleagues that have strong positions either way on what is a very sensitive and important issue to all of us and our constituents. thirdly, if there is no mandate, where is the demand for this change? a poll in yesterday's "the daily mail" -- yes, it is "the daily
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mail," but it is "the daily mail." they found that the only one out of 14 thought this should be a priority. another, 60% of the black and ethnic communities, almost none. >> will he give way? >> i give away. >> i thank my honorable friend. the majority of the population apparently do not care much about what we are talking about today, but those people who do care, in my constituency, have written to me in huge numbers, saying, "please, oppose it." would you agree with me on that? >> i would agree with my gallant friend. my constituents are asking me to
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oppose this. they do not understand the full ramifications if it is passed. fourthly, there is already provision forcible partnerships which provide most of the benefits of marriage to those in the gay community. those that had reservations at the time were reassured that the introduction of several partnerships should not be seen as a forerunner of today's the bill. in 2004. i want to put our position very clearly. this is a new legal status that gives rights and responsibilities to those of same-sex in same-sex relationships. we do not see it as a step towards gay marriage. clearly, those behind this feel no reason to stand behind that from 10 years ago. we do not know that this will be the end of the process or
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maybe more. taking education. and i quote, it "no teacher shall be forced to go against their beliefs." and yet, during a very gallon job in very difficult circumstances, on january 25, "there will be no requirement on teachers to promote say it-sex marriage." but she added on, "we would not expect them to be discriminatory about anything." what does that give students in our country who have a profound objections and believe in supporting traditional only traditional marriage? -- and supporting traditional marriage?
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i believe marriage can be only between a man and a woman, but i shall not surrender my principles. i believe this is wrong. the process is a complete sham. it is opposed to by the church. it has caused divisions among the party. there is no mandate for it. there is the prospect of legal challenge, and this country faces other challenges we need to redress. i therefore hope and pray that this will be rejected. >> mr. speaker, i shall be voting against this bill because i am a conservative and also because i know the overwhelming number of my constituents are also against this bill. i think i have had three letters in support of this bill. that is your opinion with in the constituency. the proponents of this bill are
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under one fundamental misconception, and that is that a man and a woman are equal before the law and that therefore they are the same. they are not the same. men and women are different. they may be equal under the law, but we cannot force them into a marriage. as the president of the family division said, the common-law definition of marriage is the voluntary union for one man and one woman at for their life to the exclusion of all others, and we ignore that fact. >> my honorable friend raises a good point. i am curious. has he looked into the actual profile of people entering into it? surely, it is those that tend to be much older, 60 plus, who are
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most outraged. i have five children. if i had any children and thought i was going to oppose this, they would think i am bonkers. the vast majority support this. >> on the grounds that everybody wants to contribute, and that is important. >> i cannot answer for my honorable friend's constituents. these pearls were not in our manifesto. they are not in the coalition agreement, and the prime minister expressly ruled them out three days before the election. i was a member of the civil partnerships committee, and i led 89 divisions in that standing committee, and i argued then, and i argue now that we
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should be giving status to civil partnerships which is the same for both men and women, and it is interesting that during the course of this debate, a number of members on both sides have said they think that civil partnerships should be extended to heterosexual as well as others. i raised this issue with the prime minister. he told me he is against all marriage-like arrangements. if that remains his view, that is not in the bill before us, because it is to exclude civil partnerships and that the bill should be amended to eliminate civil partnerships in the future or allow them to carry on. the alternative is to allow civil partnerships for both men and women, and if we allow civil
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partnerships, then the bill will not be so likely to be challenged in the court of human rights, and i think if we need a situation where civil partnerships are only available to same-sex couples at the same time as giving them access to marriage, we will not be able to argue the case in the court of human rights, so i think what we should be doing, mr. deputy speaker, is we should be discussing this bill in detail in committee and submitting it to pre-legislative scrutiny. that is why i shall be voting against the timetable motion, and i shall be voting against the carry it over motion. the government persuaded this house to introduce carryover motions with the standing orders on the basis that we would then be able to carry over bills that
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had first been introduced in the form of a draft bill and then subject to pre-ledges and scrutiny and then brought forward as a proper bill. what is happening now is that the government is not having any mention of this in the manifesto. it is not a jobs bill and not even any pre-legislative scrutiny. they see it as embarrassing. >> does he also think that it is really quite outrageous? any major -- measure should be taken on the house? >> absolutely. i think also we should have had two days for the second reading debate. i am at odds with the prime minister on this issue. there is no reason for me to be at issue with the prime minister on issues of procedure.
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if he does not want all of our legislation to go in piecemeal form, why will he not agree to having a longer discussion over this bill? this bill could be brought forward as a fresh built next session, and the time will be spent having proper scrutiny of it. we have not heard from human- rights, which had good things to say about the civil partnerships. it is being rushed through. the consequence of that is that when it gets to the other place, i hope the other place will give it a bloody nose. >> mr. deputy speaker, can i say that i was the minister that took through the bill, and although there will be much noise and fire, but many look back on this moment with great pride. the measure of a civilized
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democracy is how we treat minorities, and therefore it is important to remember those who served half a century ago. for many years in this house for the decriminalization i might say had we not passed that, we might not have come to this moment. it is to them that we pay tribute. >> the introduction setback this debate. if it had not been introduced, we might have come to this point much earlier. >> i think my honorable friend is right. that was a great strain on this house where we turned on an
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important minority. i received many letters from people for whom this is all coming back too soon. they think that the speed of change for lesbians, gays, and bisexual rights are happening too abruptly. the country they live in, the traditions they live by, the people they live next to our transforming in ways that make them feel uncomfortable, upset, and undermined. they're not racist, but they say, not now, later. as much as i would want britain to always be the beating heart of a radical and progressive change, it isn't. at root, it has always had a small conservative side that runs through. it is an instinct that change should be organic, the need for change to be owned by the people, not imposed from on high, and that we respect that. i will respect that when i vote for this bill because it does
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command the support of the country. it does respect religious freedom and tradition allowing religious traditions celebrate ceremonies. it is the end of an organic journey to equality for the gay community that began over a half century ago. this change is right, this change is necessary, and the time is now. there are still those that say this is a necessary. why do we need a marriage when we have civil partnerships? they are the same, separate but equal, they claim. let me speak frankly -- separate but equal is a thought. it was the language that tried to push rosa parks to the back of the boss. separate but equal is the motifs that determined that black and white people could not possibly drink from the same water fountain, it eat at the same
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table, or use the same table. separate but equal are the words that justified separating black children from white schools, schools that would condemn them and tell them to a life in poverty. it is the same statement, the same idea, and the same dilution that we used in this country to say women could vote, but only if they were married and if they were over 30. it was the same naïve otay that gave way for my dad, being a citizen, but refused by landlords. it is entrenched in who we are. this is not separate but equal. it is separate and discriminatory, separate and oppressed, separate and the brow beaten. separate is not equal. let's be rid of it. as long as there was -- as long
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as there is one rule for us and another for them, we allow barriers to go unchallenged. as long as our statute books suggest love between the two men or women is not worthy of being recognized through winter -- through marriage, we allow the route of homophobia to fester. 20,000 homophobic crimes take place each year. 8000 people have witnessed homophobic bullying at work. i am a christian. i go to mass. i recognize -- >> can i say, it is a privilege to hear his amped -- to hear his passion. there are christians that look for love in every aspect of their lives who still feel a profound misgivings and concerns about this piece of legislation.